Nearly 50 Upper St. Clair High School girls and women gathered for the inaugural Lunch and Learn event hosted by uscGAL on Dec. 16.
Sally Power, teacher and founder of Treasure House Fashions, shared her life story and encouraged those in attendance to follow their H-E-A-R-T.
Using an acrostic, Power offered this life advice:
- Heart. You have to have heart and passion for whatever impact you want to make. It will keep you grounded when things get tough. It’s the why.
- Enthusiasm. If you’re not excited about what you’re doing, no one else will be.
- Advisers. Seek out people who can help. Be selective from whom you seek advice. Never take advice from someone with whom you wouldn’t change places.
- Relationships. People do business with, have relationships and give referrals to those they know, like and trust. Take the time to get to know others. But, the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself.
- Time is your friend, but be realistic. Don’t put things off because you’re afraid you’ll fail.
Power is the founder of a nonprofit quality women’s resale clothing shop that promotes the dignity and self-esteem of women, particularly women in transition or crisis. By working with partner agencies, the organization fulfills its mission by supplying the vital resource of clothing in an affirming manner at no cost to the individual or their agency. Learn more about Treasure House Fashions at thfashions.org.
“You may not be able to change the whole world but you can change your world,” Power said. “You can start in your home and school.”
The event was open to Upper St. Clair High School female students and their mothers, along with faculty and staff members from the high school and adjacent district administration building.
An acronym for Upper St. Clair Girls Advancing Leadership, uscGAL’s mission is to advance the personal leadership skills and empowerment of women and girls in the Upper St. Clair School District. In its first year, student and adult uscGAL participants have engaged in personal development training and informal mentorship opportunities.
“Women have more opportunities personally, professionally and politically now than they ever have before; however, systemic biases and self-doubt prevent some women from reaching their potential,” Giulia Gouker, uscGAL coordinator, said, adding that “uscGAL believes that creating a supportive network of women who encourage growth and empowerment will inspire women to confidently pursue their ambitions.”
In addition to Gouker, leading the uscGAL effort are Amy Pfender, assistant to the superintendent; Lauren Madia, assistant director of student support services; Sharon Suritsky, deputy/assistant superintendent; and Gordon Mathews, Upper St. Clair High School guidance counselor. Consultation and training are being provided by Marta McClintock-Comeaux, director of women’s studies at California University of Pennsylvania, and Pernille Spiers Lopez, author of “Design Your Life,” former president of IKEA North America and global human resources manager for the IKEA Group and its 135,000 employees.
In October, nearly 30 female high school students participated in a daylong retreat led by Lopez and McClintock-Comeaux. Students collaborated in small groups to begin the process of identifying their core values and creating their Good Life Blueprint. Students were encouraged to keep a journal for self-reflection and for personal accountability in pursuing and reaching their goals.
A few weeks later, uscGAL hosted its first evening women’s lecture series event, “Sharing Her Story,” featuring Dr. Mary Parks-Lamb, owner of Lamb Medical Concierge & Aesthetic Medicine. The goal of the lecture series is to provide a forum for attendees to hear the life stories of successful women, to reflect on their own experiences and to offer an opportunity for girls and women to network and form authentic connections.
For the second semester, uscGAL will be arranging more personal development workshops for high school girls, providing service experiences with other school districts, organizing more Lunch and Learn and Sharing Her Story events, and planning mentor opportunities with Fort Couch Middle School students.
The uscGAL initiative is funded by donations from the Mary Elena Batz Memorial Fund and Joan Rossin Stephans. For more information, contact Gouker at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-833-1600, extension 2539.